Spring 2011 – my first experience teaching college
In December of 2010 I was contacted by a former professor of mine from Keene State College who I had connected with over Twitter about an opening for an adjunct professor for website design at Keene State College. My interest was piqued so I sent an email over to the director of the Media Arts Department who just happened to be my website design 101 professor from 2001. I had a great interview and I was offered the opportunity to teach Web Based Media I and Web Based Media II in addition to my current full time gig as Interactive Media Director for FirstTracks Marketing Group.
Awesome. Call me Professor Nelson, has a nice ring to it.
It was an interesting realization when I took the job and was passed on a syllabus from a professor who had previously taught Web Based Media I & II…I had A LOT of work to do. I basically had to build my own curriculum from scratch. Choosing the books we would use (special shout out here to Sitepoint because I used their books in both my classes and they were a HUGE help), scheduling out projects, and trying to put it all together into a package that would result in a solid understanding of HMTL, CSS and how to use the box model to build and design websites. It was a very stressful process for me. I am what you would call somewhat of a perfectionist so the idea of not being totally planned out for all my classes was terrifying to me for the first couple weeks.
What’s a <div>? Inline vs. Block Level huh?
I have to say (and this is not surprising) that the toughest thing for my students to wrap their heads around was what a DIV was and what the difference between inline and block level elements were. The concept of having containers that you can name and then style was a tough one for most to grasp at first. And then expanding on that idea with the knowledge that your basic HTML tags can also work the same way as the DIV’s you create really blew a few minds at first.
The first couple of attempts at building a proper box model layout using floats resulted in a lot of unnecessary DIV tags with students doing things like wrapping all of their images and paragraph tags in DIV’s thinking that’s how you needed to organize things to gain control of them. I found this to be an interesting interpretation of my lessons and was not something I was expecting to see but then again this being my first go at teaching in a classroom there were more than a few things that happened that I didn’t expect.
I am VERY proud of all my website design students
With lots of demonstrations and a fair amount of white board concept drawings though I feel really good about what all of my students were able to achieve. NONE of the websites listed below by my students use tables for layout purposes of their sites, a fact I am very proud of. Take a second and check out my students work below, they all worked very hard to wrap up their final projects and as a whole did very well.
Web Based Media I
Web Based Media II
Will I teach website design again?
That is the question everyone keeps asking. Some of my Web I students wanted to already know what I was teaching in the fall and those close to me are curious if I will go back for another round education. The short answer is yes. Having a semester under my belt and all my new materials put together now the time investment on my end would be a lot easier to manage strictly from a time prospective. Plus there are a lot of things I would love to have a second go around on in terms of how I teach certain parts of each class. I was very excited and encouraged by all the progress my students made and I think with a little more refinement on my end it could be even better.
So now I wait to get my student evaluations and see if Keene State will want to have me come back, I am anxious and excited to find out. Stay tuned for more news and for future postings where I will share some more specific thoughts and ideas about how the semester went and some quick tips and ideas that came about from my experience with my students. If you have comments or questions about what it was like for you teaching your first time or if you just want to share some thoughts and experiences of your own or have questions about website design feel free to share them below.